Alexandre Birman, designer and CEO of Arezzo & Co., launched Schutz in Brazil in 1995, effectively redefining attainable luxury through trend-forward footwear collections that inspire of-the-moment looks. But it was in 2012 when Schutz entered the U.S. that the brand took off with a brand-new energy.
When the first Schutz U.S. store opened on Madison Avenue, it was to astounding enthusiasm from the American consumer, who responded to the brand’s ability to produce a constant flow of high-quality products. In 2016, Schutz was awarded Brand of the Year by Footwear News, which honors the best and brightest in the industry.
The brand responded to the initial success by opening a second location in Beverly Hills, California in 2016 and a third location in Miami in 2018. Seeing the brand’s signature styles resonate so profoundly, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue were also quick to put Schutz in stores. Bloomingdales and Revolve have also since added the brand to their offerings.
Schutz had become a go-to brand for fashion lovers all over the country.
In 2020, like many fashion brands, Schutz was faced with unexpected challenges feeling immense pressure from both the consumer and retailers. Reacting swiftly, Schutz shifted its strategy its strategy and launching a lower price-point model and adapting collections to include more casual options. For retailers, this move proved Schutz as the go-to brand for fast reaction as they were able to provide consumers with not only a more palatable price but supported new trends in the market.
In April of 2022, Schutz again answered consumers’ needs by launching its first bridal collection as weddings make a comeback. The collection is part of the moment, catering to yet another aspect of the lifestyles of the bride and her guests.
To mark the brand’s 10-year milestone, Fairchild Studio talked to Milena Penteado Ometto, Global Executive Director of International Brands at Arezzo & Co., about Schutz’s first decade in the U.S. and where the brand is going.
Fairchild Studio: Where did Schutz get started?
Milena Penteado Ometto: Schutz has its roots in our Arezzo & Co. factory; therefore, quality and craftsmanship have always been pillars of the brand. Through the years, we have been able to expand brand awareness and create a lifestyle of its own.
Fairchild Studio: How has Schutz’s place in the U.S. evolved over time?
M.P.O.: It all started with a store in New York, but retailers were quickly interested in the new kid on the block and wholesale really became the brand’s most important channel. And then, during the pandemic, we saw another shift as the business went back towards the direct-to-consumer model. Our single most important store is our online e-commerce, and when combined with our owned physical location they represent approximately 50 percent of the brand’s yearly sales.
We launched e-commerce shortly after opening the store on Madison Avenue, so the brand has always been digitally connected, but most recently we’ve been working on fine-tuning the brand’s business model to be even more digitally driven which will result in a more customer-centric experience.
Fairchild Studio: Can you tell us about Schutz’s trend-focused designs?
M.P.O.: Schutz first iconic style launch was the Juliana in 2015. We say it is the “perfect caged heel.” It’s a balance between edgy and fashion style that our customers have responded to.
When you look at the brand’s design, it’s a recurring model. There are signature styles that are always updated with new materials and colors and those represent more than a third of the brand’s full-price sales. These styles are timeless, and the customer appreciates that we are consistently recreating them to be trend-forward.
Fairchild Studio: Where is Schutz headed?
M.P.O.: The Schutz lifestyle will never be static. The brand will evolve together with our customers, and we are excited to see the brand go wherever our consumers’ lifestyles take it.
Today, Schutz goes beyond footwear, and we plan to offer new categories to emerge in the U.S. soon!
Schutz Eyes Global Expansion
Footwear, handbags, and accessories brand Schutz details its distribution strategy and plans for continued expansion on a global scale.
Business is booming for Brazil-based Arezzo & Co., and its distribution strategy is well aligned to grow its impact in noteworthy – and northern – markets.
The firm said that its current model for footwear brand Schutz is focused on “increasing its awareness,” and “each new point of sale, owned or not, is relevant to new consumers having their first experience with the brand,” according to Fernando Santos Abreu Caligaris, CEO, U.S., Arzz International.
“Nonetheless, we believe that physical stores are an opportunity for Schutz, as during the pandemic the brand was able to strongly develop its digital footprint.”
Its increased presence in the U.S. market means further growth of the brand with owned stores in key locations, whilst expanding its digital footprint and strengthening its wholesale distribution, Caligaris explained.
“While that happens, Mexico and Canada are great markets to directly address, specially digitally,” he said, adding that “Europe, with a market size similar to the U.S., is next. And plans are being drawn right now.”
And the company is well positioned as a vertically integrated operation to increase and expedite its processes on a global scale. “The pandemic has increased our need for speed. And investing in product development and controlling the supply chain allows us to bring newness in an unmatched speed, as well as to quickly adapt to any new headwind or opportunity we face,” Caligaris said.
Its differentiated approach to growth includes significant investment in product development and data that will be the backbone of any risks it takes in its expansion efforts.
“We have been capturing data for decades but more recently we have mastered the data into information skill, which allows us to not only have a better understanding of clients’ needs, but also, in advance, see shifts in consumer behavior – which is something key in moments like these where we are navigating uncharted waters in U.S.”